Jabuka

The coffee-bean-themed Jabuka word game arrived as a surprise gift from overseas this year and quickly caught the family's attention with its intriguing “twistable alphabet” and natural recycled materials. Set up is instant but not in a bad instant coffee way. You just tip the beans out the bag onto the table and off you go.

As with other tile-based word games, Jabuka is all about forming words from the letters and pairs of letters on each bean. Players compete in real time to “brew” their own words and “grind” other players' words, aiming to finish the game with more beans than anyone else. The clever twist is that letters can literally be twisted since many of the beans can be read in different ways depending on how they are rotated. This adds a pleasing dimension to the game and rewards players who are open to seeing things differently.

It is worth pointing out that Jabuka is an English language game as its “twistable alphabet” is based on the 26 letter Latin alphabet with no diacritics. That said, having played together with speakers of other languages we found that games were always enjoyable and lived up to the publisher's claim that in a world of electronic isolation, Jabuka is live, spontaneous interaction that puts players in the natural, healthy human state of joyful flow. Together.

I'd say that's exactly what we all need more of.